India says ban on Chinese toys for public safety

India's trade minister said the government's decision to ban imports of Chinese toys was taken on the grounds of public safety.

India says ban on Chinese toys for public safety

India's trade minister said on Friday the government's decision to ban imports of Chinese toys was taken on the grounds of public safety and the move was compatible with World Trade Organisation rules.

Last month, India banned imports of several types of toys from China for six months "in the public interest" but without giving further details of why, a move that pleased local manufacturers but shocked importers.

"The question of banning Chinese toys was on the grounds of public health and safety," Trade Minister Kamal Nath told reporters after a conference.

"It is a matter which is of public concern rather than commercial, and public concern has to be given priority over commercial concern," he added.

On Wednesday, the China Daily newspaper reported that China may ask the WTO to investigate the six-month import ban, citing a source close to the matter.

The Chinese government will probably ask the global trade regulator to look into whether the move violates its laws, the state-owned paper said, quoting a source who asked not to be named.

"Of course, it is for China to establish this," Nath said.

"We are fully compliant with WTO ... Before we take any action we make it sure it is WTO compatible," he added.

China, a key supplier of toys, apparel and food to much of the world, has faced a wave of complaints in recent years, most recently as thousands of people have fallen ill as a result of consuming milk powder tainted with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics.

In 2007, the world's leading toymaker Mattel recalled over 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide due to excessive levels of lead paint and other unsafe components.

Worries about protectionism are rising as the impact of the global financial crisis spreads, increasing the temptation for governments to bring in measures that will help their firms in the short-term but worsen the overall economic pain.

Earlier, the Toy Association of India had said it had urged the government to raise import taxes on Chinese toys but did not expect a ban. Its president, Raj Kumar, told Reuters the step was likely taken in the interest of the economy and consumer safety.

Reuters
Last Mod: 07 Şubat 2009, 14:43
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